How the primary timetable will squeeze out all but the front-runners
Anybody considering a bet on the US elections should check out this recent article by by Dick Morris, the former advisor to Bill Clinton. For the way the primaries will work next year is going to make it very tough for all but the front-runners in both the Democratic and Republican races to have an impact.
Morris points out that on February 5th 2008, just three weeks after the Iowa caucuses Hampshire, a total of 19 different states containing more than half the entire population of the US will be holding their presidential nominating primaries thus, in his view, concertinaing the whole process into less than three weeks.
Morris goes on: “The effect of this gigantic sea change will be that whoever is the frontrunner in each party by the fall of 2007 will be virtually certain to win the nomination because only the frontrunner can possibly hope to amass enough money to compete in half the country at once. Nobody but the likely winner in each party will be able to compete at that level on Feb. 5. Money will now be king. Nothing else will count very much. If you can afford to run a national campaign three weeks after the first caucus, you will win. If you canâ€™t, youâ€™re doomed. And the polling that designates a frontrunner now will do much to determine the nominee.”
The whole effect is to make the process so top-heavy that the candidates who build up clear leads in the polls in the next few months will have the nominations within their grasp before even the first vote has been cast in any of the primaries.
Thus if this time-table had operated in 2004 then Howard Dean would have been almost certainly been the Democratic nominee because no other contender was even near him in the polls until the Iowa caucus in mid-January. Even with the set-back in that state he would have had the war-chest to have dealt with the “mega super Tuesday” three weeks later.
Looking at the way the polling is going in the 2008 race Rudy Giuliani is building up such a commanding lead for the Republican slot that is is hard to see him being over-taken. The latest polls have him beating John McCain by 44% – 21%.
The Democratic race, though, is much tighter with all the focus on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The latest Time Poll shows there is only a 2% difference between them when when tested against Giuliani. The Zogby organisation, meanwhile, is reporting that Obama would beat the Republican favourite while Hillary would be behind.
So if polling trends continue and the Dick Morris analysis is right then there are only three candidates left in the race – Hillary, Rudy and Barack.
There’s a round-up of White House betting markets here.